The U.S. employment visa application process typically requires foreign nationals to attend an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate abroad in order to obtain a visa stamp in their passport, a necessary step for U.S. entry. However, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. Department of State has been temporarily waiving this requirement for certain nonimmigrants. This interview waiver process has been extended through December 31, 2023.
Am I eligible for an interview waiver for an INITIAL nonimmigrant visa?
You may qualify for an interview waiver for your initial nonimmigrant visa application if:
- You fit in one of the following categories:
- Are an applicant for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, academic J, L, M, O, P, or Q visa AND were previously issued any type of visa;
- Are an applicant for a visa category included above, from a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, and previously traveled to the S. under ESTA authorization; -OR-
- Are an applicant for H-2 visa (temporary agricultural and non- agricultural workers);
- You are applying at the consular post in your country of usual residence; AND
- You were not previously refused a visa in any classification unless the refusal was overcome or ground for inadmissibility was waived.
Am I eligible for an interview waiver for a RENEWAL nonimmigrant visa?
You may qualify for an interview waiver for a renewal of your nonimmigrant visa if:
- You are applying at the consular post of your usual residence;
- You have a previously issued S. visa in the same classification as the visa for which you are currently applying and your prior visa is still valid or expired within the last 48 months;
- Your prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”;
- Your most recent visa is in the same classification for which you are currently applying and your most recent visa was issued on or after your 14th birthday;
- Your most recent visa is in the same classification for which you are currently applying and was not lost, stolen or canceled; AND
- You were not previously refused a visa in any classification.
I think I am eligible for an interview waiver. What steps should I take?
If you think you qualify to have the in-person interview requirement waived, you should review the website of the U.S. consulate you plan to visit to determine their specific procedure. Consulates typically require an interview waiver applicant to mail in or drop off the following documents (an appointment may be necessary for drop off):
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Valid passport
- Pre-paid courier packaging for passport/document return
- Fee receipt
- Two passport style photographs
- Visa petition approval notice (such as Form I-797 approval notice)
Note, despite meeting the criteria listed above, consular officers have discretion and may choose to require an in-person interview. However, applying to have the in-person interview requirement waived may be a viable and convenient option for you when obtaining a nonimmigrant visa stamp from a U.S. consulate abroad.
As always, please feel free to reach out to your ZP attorney with any questions.